Opposition leader claims move breaches pre-election pledge by Labour
Cllr Gary Malcolm addresses the council on the issue of ward forums
A meeting of Ealing Council this week (26 July) saw confirmation of plans to scrap ward forums in the borough.
The move has been condemned by the opposition Liberal Democrats who say it is a breach of a pre-election pledge by the Labour Party.
Plans for new town-based forums were revealed during the meeting. As opposed to the 23 ward forums that used to meet at least twice a year previously, there will now be seven local committees covering a wider area. In answer to a question by the leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Gary Malcolm, the leader of the Council, Cllr Peter Mason, confirmed that the two structures would not run in parallel.
The Labour-run council had previously proposed scrapping the ward forums in 2019 but drew back from this move following public opposition.
The ward forums were led by the ward councillors who controlled a budget of around £20,000 to be spent on local initiatives. In addition, the meetings, which were open to the public, would discuss matters such as community safety, traffic and transport schemes, parks and street improvements.
The new town-based forums will share up to £2 million to be raised from the Community Infrastructure Levy(CIL which is raised from developers when permission is given for planning applications. These will be spent on facilitating community initiatives and microfinancing.
The council says it is going to set up steering groups with ward councillors and residents who are interested in taking a leading role. These steering groups will agree on the approach to the Town Forum in each of the seven towns to prepare for launch in Autumn
It is also planned for a training and development programme to be commissioned for members on their role as ‘community leaders’ and set aside initial funding for projects to be developed by the Town Forums until money from the CIL is available.
While the Liberal Democrats did control the budget for ward forums where they had the majority of councillors including Southfield ward, it is understood that Labour will now have the majority on all of the new town forums.
Councillor Gary Malcolm, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, Ealing Council said, “Liberal Democrats have seen over the past decade that ward forums are loved and have a high attendance. Replacing them with the seven Town committees means that decision making will be taken further away from people. In covid times, residents and businesses wanted to be more involved in their communities. Labour promised to keep ward forums before the election but now that was a blatant lie.”
“Liberal Democrats want to see the Council doing the basics correctly but in the past few months they have had to get rid of two failed contractors, had two IT failures causing residents issues with parking, data management and other web services. Labour-run Ealing Council has failed to manage housing checks and repairs, meaning that thousands of tenants may have been living in unsafe conditions.”
We have asked Ealing Council for comment.
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July 28, 2022